Pacquiao packs a punch for wage hike bill
By Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Congressman Manny Pacquiao has joined calls for a "significant wage hike" for workers as he links arms with labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Anakpawis party-list on the issue.
Pacquiao, who has made no secret of his proletarian background, said it's about time for workers to find a little relief from the rising cost of basic commodities.
"Ako rin ay naging ordinaryong manggagawa. Naging welder, service boy, nagbenta ng balot at sampaguita, nagtra-trabaho sa kakarampot na kita. Hindi naging madali ang buhay kaya naiintindihan ko ang inyong laban," said the fighting congressman of Sarangani province.
KMU and Anakpawis hope Pacquiao can deliver the knockout punch in their quest to pass House Bill 375 or the P125 across-the-board wage hike bill in the 14th Congress.
"Very significant at welcome ang suporta ni Congressman Pacquiao, at pinapakita lang nito na marunong siyang lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan," said Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano. "Ang pakiramdam namin hindi lang siya guest kundi kahanay mismo ng masang Anakpawis."
Anakpawis and other progressive party-list groups have been pushing for a legislated wage increase for many years, citing rapid inflation and the huge discrepancy between minimum wage and the estimated daily cost of living.
Mariano insists that based on experience, no significant wage increases have been implemented through the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.
Pacquiao said he is one with KMU and Anakpawis in condemning the P22 Cost of Living Allowance that was approved by government recently, as this was hardly felt by laborers.
The People's Champ also scoffed at claims that business will suffer if basic wages are increased.
"Lagi namang panakot sa mga manggagawa yan," Pacquiao said. "Pero kailangan natin pakita na pinapahalagahan natin sila, kasi importante ang mga nagtratrabaho sa pag-unlad ng buong bayan."